Edmonton Oilers 5, Nashville Predators 1
EDMONTON -- On the same day Wayne Gretzky was celebrating his 53rd birthday, Ryan Smyth scored his 125th power-play goal as a member of the Edmonton Oilers in a 5-1 win against the Nashville Predators on Sunday at Rexall Place. The goal pulled Smyth into a second-place tie with Gretzky for power-play goals with the franchise.
Glenn Anderson holds the Oilers record with 126 power-play goals.
"For Ryan, that was a special thing to do," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "Hopefully, he can keep moving up the charts. Anything that has Mr. Gretzky's name on it and you can match it, it's a great, great accomplishment. I'm really proud of Ryan."
With a goal and an assist, Smyth was one of five Oilers on the night to register two points. Justin Schultz, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also had a goal and an assist. Taylor Hall had two assists.
Nail Yakupov scored the other goal for the Oilers. David Legwand scored for the Predators.
Goalie Ben Scrivens, acquired from the Los Angeles Kings on Jan. 15, made 34 saves to record his first win with Edmonton.
"It's nice to get out to an early lead and I thought we carried momentum shift after shift in the first period," Smyth said. "We needed a win desperately to build some confidence. Now we have confidence that we can win. We can come from behind if we need to, but it was nice to play with the lead."
The win snapped a six-game winless skid for the Oilers. It was the Predators' second-consecutive loss.
"It's obviously not the result we wanted," Predators center Paul Gaustad said. "Every team in this League is a really good team, no matter what the standings always say. We need to find ways to get two points. We have to start making a move up, we can’t go down in the standings right now. These last two games, we needed to find a way to get more points. It's something we're not happy with."
Smyth was moved to center in the contest between Luke Gazdic and Jesse Joensuu on the Oilers' fourth line.
His power-play goal came at 10:12 of the second period, banging a rebound past Predators goaltender Carter Hutton from the top of the crease. Hutton made 22 stops in the loss.
"I got an early text [from Eakins] that I going to play center on the fourth line," Smyth said. "Every game is an opportunity, you want to make the most of it whatever position you're playing. I relished that a little bit last year. Playing in your own zone is a little bit different, playing in the offensive zone is a little bit different when you're playing center. I tried to relish it as best I can, Luke and Jesse played well also."
Schultz opened the scoring 2:59 into the first period, taking a feed from Joensuu in front and lifting a shot over Hutton.
"It was nice to get one early and it definitely felt good for the rest of the game," Schultz said. "The team played well. It was a good team win, all four lines, all six defense were rolling pretty good. We got contributions from everyone, whether they were on the score sheet or not, everyone played well. It was nice to get a win."
Legwand tied the game at 15:25, breaking out on a 2-on-1 rush and snapping a shot past Scrivens.
Eberle restored the lead at 19:48 converting a cross-ice feed from Hall and tapping it past Hutton.
In the second, the Predators thought they had tied the game, but Taylor Beck was called for goaltender interference after bowling over Scrivens as the puck went into the net. It was the first of two Predators goals to be waived off.
"I'm quite disappointed," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "We had a game in Calgary the other day and let a point slip away and [Sunday] we had it 1-1 late in the first and I thought we would be in good shape.
"We gave up a poor goal in terms of our structure, it was bad coverage by us. When they got the third goal, it took a lot of steam out of our bench. They did a good job. They defended pretty well and executed when they did and stayed disciplined. The Oilers played kind of a desperate game and didn't give us too much early."
Yakupov made it 4-1 with his 10th goal of the season at 16:46. The Oilers left wing converted a Sam Gagner centering pass, firing it through Hutton.
The Predators had a number of quality opportunities to cut into the deficit in the period on the power play, but were unable to beat Scrivens, making his third start for the Oilers since the trade.
"Scrivens did an unbelievable job. He was barking and talking and he was conducting the orchestra back there," Eakins said. "That's important. Communication in this game is a skill and it's one that hasn't been taught very well as these players come up, a lot of them don't speak on the ice. Ben was excellent directing traffic back there."
Craig Smith looked to have cut into the Oilers lead in the third period, converting off a scramble in front. However, Beck was again ruled to have interfered with Scrivens, lying on the Oilers goaltender as the puck was shot into the net.
"I've never seen anything like that," Beck said. "On the first one I was just taking the puck hard to the net and my momentum kind of ran the goalie a little bit. I think the puck would have gone into the net regardless, but the ref called it. On the second one I was getting hacked and whacked and ended up falling on the goalie and again it was disallowed. Those things happen, I guess. Hopefully next time it is called the other way."
Nugent-Hopkins added a fifth-goal for the Oilers, converting on the power play at 15:32. Nugent-Hopkins took a cross-crease pass from Eberle and lifted a shot over Hutton.
The Oilers travel to face the Vancouver Canucks on Monday; the Predators conclude their three-game road trip against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.